Escape The Field Review: Familiar Tropes Override Enjoyment In Bland Thriller

Escape the Field shares a premise not too dissimilar to several other horror films. The film’s ensemble is a mix of fresh faces and familiar TV favorites, including Tahirah Sharif, who is coming off the heels of her stellar performance in Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Theo Rossi, who left an impression while starring in Sons of Anarchy. The one key element to making a film about strangers forced to work together is to have capable actors, which Escape The Field luckily has, but they aren’t playing interesting characters. Sadly, Escape the Field fails to mount this thriller on any likable or remotely engaging people. Instead, audiences watch as these individuals run around, making one foolish mistake after another.

The film follows six strangers — Sharif, Rossi, Shane West, Jordan Claire Robbins, Elena Juatco, and Julian Feder — who wake up in a mysterious cornfield and are left with nothing but a singular item that will assist them on their escape. The strangers come together and realize that their items all share the emblem of what they assume is their captors and they must trust each other and hope that they can escape the field and whatever lurks there.

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Tahira Sharif in Escape the Field

The film is writer-director Emerson Moore and co-writers Sean Wathen and Joshua Dobkin’s debut feature, which shows in a few key moments. There are some scenes where actors deliver their lines with half the effort that they may have intended to put in, giving off very stilted performances that work against the movie. A seasoned director would have pushed for a few more takes, as the ones that made it in are just negligent. The ensemble also lacks that fervent desperation required to sell this predicament to viewers, except for Sharif, who seems to understand how to deliver her lines. Everyone else walks through the maze with nothing but a glazed expression and disinterest. Jordan Claire Robbins is positioned as the lead and the archetypal “final girl”, but she cannot muster up enough magnetism to have an impact.

Escape the Field rests on its premise, allowing the characters to maneuver this maze of half-baked puzzles while letting the audience eat up what little the filmmakers can summon in terms of excitement. The single location helps settle expectations, whereas a project like Escape Room demands quality production design and high concept puzzles to engage its audience.  In Escape the Field, however, there is no substance present in the in-between moments, only character expositions to offset the awkward silences. The scares and deaths also lack imagination and this becomes more of a significant hindrance as the film carries on. Escape the Field gives enough for audiences to be curious, but it does little from there.

Shane West in Escape the Field

In addition to the lackluster characters and lack of innovation in the premise, the cinematography has a brown and gray tinge that doesn’t add anything to this already monotonous and flat story. The lack of substance exacerbates the film’s poor quality, which only works to make the cornfield look sinister, but unpleasant to the eye. With all its flaws, Escape the Field is still a watchable B-horror movie. It is a movie that doesn’t expect much from its audiences, serving them with archetypes, a basic escape room premise (with lots of questions and little answers), a monster that lurks in the shadows, a final girl who does what she needs to do, and a mind-numbing third act.

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In the end, Escape the Field is tolerable at best. It doesn’t shatter any expectations, but it won’t be utterly hated if one decides to give it a go. There are more charming and innovative horror-thrillers about escaping a maze, but Escape the Field tries. For a first feature, it is serviceable for a small-budget venture. If the third act is an indication that the creatives here want to do more with the world a la Escape Room, one would hope they take a hard look at this first outing and learn from the mistakes made. If that happens, a potential Escape the Field 2 might be one of the few sequels that are better than its predecessor.

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Escape the Field released in theaters, on-demand and digital on Friday, May 6. It is 88 minutes long and is rated R for violence and language.

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